Smith says joint responsibility required to tackle youth fights | THE DAILY HERALD

PHILIPSBURG–Combating violence amongst young people is a joint responsibility and everyone should play a role, Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Wycliffe Smith said on Wednesday.

  He was responding to a question during the Council of Ministers press briefing about what can be done to curb fights among young people. 

  “This is a joint responsibility and the Ministry of Education is looking into all areas and we will deal with them in the proper way, but it is a joint responsibility. We are all part of this process. … ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ and we are all part of that village, but we will take the lead in dealing with this matter with the school board, bus drivers, schools, etc.,” Smith said.

  “We all have a responsibility to address this issue and the ministry will be looking to see how it can work directly with youngsters. … It is of concern and we will be dealing with it.”

  Smith told reporters during his opening remarks at the briefing Wednesday that he was distressed by the all-too-frequent news and reports of violence in the community.

  “We are called ‘The Friendly Island’ and not too long ago we were still living with that culture,” he said. “Today, violence and crime have invaded our communities, our homes and our minds, gripping our residents with fear and isolation. Our children, youth, adults and seniors are affected. I have received too many reports in the past couple of weeks about schoolchildren engaging in bullying and fights, while being encouraged to do so by their peers. How have we allowed this to happen?”

  “Parents, where are the good values and virtues that we learnt … and that we were to pass on to our children? It is time to put a stop to this digression. Good manners are free. Respect for self, respect for others, and respect for authority are lessons that begin at home.”

  Smith said the “burden” of addressing this issue cannot be left to educators to address. “Parents, you are your child’s first teachers. If we as a community promote the good principles with which we were raised, then it will be easier for the village to lovingly correct our children when they stray from these values. To reclaim and preserve our friendly identity as St. Maarteners, we must combat violence with peace.”

  He advised that when faced with conflict, persons should be encouraged to walk away. “We must defeat aggression with compassion. Place yourself in the other person’s position and apply the golden rule. Let us do to others as we would have them do to us. We must counter negativity with a positive energy. Use the challenges that come our way to propel us to be better, stronger, greater. Let us work together and overcome together.”

  He urged the community, in particular parents, to attend the St. Maarten Student Support Services (SSSD) information evening entitled “Fighting in Schools: The Role of Schools, Parents, Police and Social Media” at University of St. Martin (USM) this evening from 7:00 to 9:00pm.

  Smith said everyone has the opportunity to be part of “the solution.” The workshop is to educate and empower parents, teachers and the public via an open panel discussion. “It will deal with the recent surge in school fights, the influence of social media and the responsibility of the community,” Smith said, adding that solutions which can be applied will be brainstormed at the event.

Source: The Daily Herald